There are six checkpoints on the 50-mile race, seven on the 56. All but one of these are at Butcombe pubs and there’s a description of the route for each leg below.
The races are self-navigation (as explained on the Information page) and each competitor will be given a set of 1:25000 scale paper maps which cover the route at the start. All maps are reproduced with the kind permission of Ordnance Survey.
MAP AND GPX FILE LINKS
UPDATED ON 20 SEPTEMBER 2018
If you are doing a recce of the route and find any inaccuracy in the GPX files, please email email@example.com
Note: Leg 1 differs depending on if you are running the BTU50 or BTU56
Leg 1 (BTU50) – The Cider Barn at Draycott to the Strawberry Line lay-by on A371 (5.4mi)
Maps 1 and 2
A stiff 200m climb at the start separates the elite racers from the mere mortals and rewards all with fantastic views. We’re diverting you off the official Butcombe Trail for the last kilometre into Cheddar to avoid a dangerous road section with a nasty crossing. From here you pick up the Strawberry Line, a disused railway line now a foot/cycle track, which takes you round Cheddar reservoir to Axbridge. The first checkpoint is now beyond Axbridge at the Strawberry Line lay-by on the A371, a scenic spot which marks the transition from the tarmac through Axbridge to the off-road dominated Leg 2.
Legs 1A & 1B (BTU56) – The Cider Barn at Draycott to the Strawberry Line lay-by on A371 via The Swan, Rowberrow (11.7mi total)
Maps 1A and 1B
The same initial stiff 200m climb as the BTU50 separates the elite racers from the mere mortals and rewards all with fantastic views. Following the subsequent descent, the BTU56 route takes a right turn onto the West Mendip Way just before reaching Cheddar. Another lung-busting ascent brings you to the top of the South side of Cheddar Gorge, then a brief technical descent to cross the road and up again to the highest point on the North side, with stunning views of the Gorge, cliffs, Cheddar Reservoir and the Bristol Channel beyond. You will follow the Gorge rim for a while, then turn North across open countryside before descending through the forest of Rowberrow Warren to the first mini-checkpoint (water/sweets only) at The Swan (8.1mi). You will be back here later!
From The Swan, the route is on-road for a short while through the small village of Shipham, before a brief climb to the top of Fry’s Hill and more expansive views across the Somerset Levels. A thundering descent brings you down to Axbridge where you rejoin the BTU50 shortly before Checkpoint 1.
Leg 2 onward is the same for BTU50 and BTU56
Leg 2 – Strawberry line lay-by on A371 to the Queens Arms, Bleadon (8.1mi)
Maps 2 and 3
There’s some gentle ascent at the start of Leg 2 as the route climbs to Kings Wood and the trig point at the top of Wavering Down. From there you head over to Crook Peak but turn right at the saddle before you get to the Peak itself. There are some great views along here. You cross the motorway just before Loxton and climb for a couple of kilometres to the top of Loxton Hill. There’s a marshal point a bit further along then a kilometre of road followed by a nice run down to the Queens Arms at Bleadon, the westernmost point of the route.
Leg 3 – Queens Arms, Bleadon to the Swan, Rowberrow (9.25mi)
Maps 3, 4 and 5
This leg is the longest and doesn’t start promisingly with a steep climb, first on road for couple of hundred metres, then through woods. At the top of the hill take a turn into a golf course and follow the trail along the edge of the driving range. 1.5k later the route takes you east along a section of path you ran in the opposite direction on the previous leg. At the end of this turn north and run to another bridge where you recross the motorway. The lane you pick up on on the far side has great views south to Wavering Down which you ran over earlier in the day. It’s all reasonably flat for a few miles until there’s a switchback to the right after the site of Italian POW toilets and a long shallow climb to the top of Sanford Hill. It’s then downhill to Star where you cross the A38 and a short hop to The Swan, your next checkpoint.
In 2017 we added a slight detour to the route at the request of the farmer at Rhodyate Farm. The race now cuts South along the footpath just before the farm, avoiding the farmyard and livestock, and passes through a Thatchers Cider orchard before cutting back to the original route before the A371. See Map 4 for a detailed view of the new route.
Leg 4 – Swan, Rowberrow to the Ring O Bells, Compton Martin (8.8mi)
Maps 5 and 6
This leg has some steep climbing, first up over the hill fort at Dolebury Warren then up onto Black Down which can be very muddy. Some tracks and a lovely avenue of trees leads you to some woods where you descend to Compton Martin where you turn left on the main road to get to the pub.
Leg 5 – Ring O Bells, Compton Martin to the Ring O Bells, Hinton Blewett (4.1mi)
After checking in at the pub the trail takes you back through the village to a right turn up a hill which leads you via fields and lanes to the village of West Harptree. You’re only in the village for a few hundred yards (watch the traffic) then it’s out into the countryside again. The hill up to Prospect Stile viewpoint is steep but you’re rewarded with some great views over the Chew Valley lakes if you have time to look behind you. This is the shortest leg.
Leg 6 – Ring O Bells, Hinton Blewett to the Queen Victoria, Priddy (10.5mi)
Maps 7 and 8
Hinton Blewett marks the easternmost point of the Butcombe Trail, and we divert from the marked trail here for a couple of miles via the Litton resevoirs and dam, rejoining the official trail at Coley. The way-marked route runs alongside the fast and dangerous B3135 for almost a kilometre on this leg, but we have negotiated a diversion for race day with local landowners which avoids most of it (note: this diversion is not shown on the downloadable maps or GPX but is shown on the maps we will give you on race day). After the road section there’s a lovely run through Stockhill Wood, past the Bronze Age “nine barrows” and on to Priddy.
Leg 7 – Queen Victoria, Priddy to The Cider Barn at Draycott (4.2mi)
The land opens up after leaving Priddy with larger fields and stone stiles. A lot of the trail on this leg is along the top of the Mendip Hills and there are some great views of the Somerset levels to the south (and of the Cider Barn where you finish). The last kilometre is fast downhill but beware of the sting in the tail!
Google Earth fly-by of the entire 50-mile route: